Online forensic science degrees are offered at the Bachelor of Science level, as well as at the Master of Science level. Students may choose majors in criminal justice, forensic toxicology, forensic serology and DNA, and forensic drug chemistry, all of which fall under the larger forensic science umbrella. While these programs are offered online, students may be required to complete in-person exams.
Bachelor of Science
Students seeking to obtain an undergraduate degree in forensic science without having to disrupt their professional lives have a number of online educational options. In addition to programs devoted to forensic science, many schools also offer a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice (BSCJ) with a forensic science concentration. These programs let students explore the legal world a bit more extensively than a dedicated forensic science degree may.
Courses typically found in a BSCJ program include the following:
- Foundations of criminal justice
- Forensic psychology
- Computer forensics
Master of Science
Advanced students seeking a graduate-level degree will also find a handful of online options available to them. Some schools offer comprehensive MS programs in forensic science that include several concentrations based on student interest. Some of these concentrations are outlined below.
Students interested in analyzing pharmacokinetics, drug elimination, drug metabolism and postmortem toxicology would choose the forensic toxicology concentration. Courses typically include:
- Mammalian pharmacology
- Scientific statistics
- Toxic substances
Forensic Serology and DNA
Serology is the scientific study of blood serum, and this concentration would best suit students interested in the theory of DNA analysis and nucleic acid chemistry. Students should make sure that the program they choose meets the DNA Advisory Board guidelines for theoretical DNA technical leader and supervisor background requirements.
Forensic Drug Chemistry
The concentration in drug chemistry is meant to provide students with a strong background in the following:
- Analytical techniques
- Forensic drug chemistry
- Drug pharmacology
- Organic synthesis
About Online Learning
Online programs make use of virtual instructional platforms, such as Blackboard, which allow students to communicate with peers and professors, participate in class discussions, access class notes and submit work. Online students often learn through the use of animated visuals, case studies and scholarly journals.
Students are typically free to work at their own pace, keeping in mind deadlines for course assignments. Courses usually allow students to complete minor quizzes online. However, students may need to visit their college campus to complete a final in-person comprehensive exam.
Forensic science involves the practical application of natural sciences to answer questions of interest to the legal system. Because of this, the findings of forensic scientists are typically used to settle legal questions and provide evidence at trials. Depending on one's area of specialization, careers could be found with the following:
- Law enforcement
- Crime labs
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Medical examiner offices
Students interested in pursuing a degree in forensic science can do so by majoring in a number of closely-related fields, both at the undergraduate and graduate level. Graduates of these programs will be ready for jobs in crime labs, as members of the military, and at pharmaceutical companies, to name a few.